Critics say NYC Parks Department is patronage mill for Adams' pals

The Adams administration has quietly tapped a City Council member’s wife and another top Bronx Democratic supporter to fill two, high-ranking, $177,000-a-year Parks Department jobs, The Post has learned.

The Parks Department in August gave Jessenia Aponte, wife of Councilman Rafael Salamanca (D-Bronx), a huge promotion that comes with a $72,000-plus raise, naming her Bronx borough commissioner.

In another under-the-radar move, the agency last month handed Anthony Perez, former executive director of the Bronx Democratic Party, the job of Manhattan borough commissioner.

Both Salamanca and Perez campaigned heavily for Eric Adams during his successful 2021 mayoral run, helping him lock up key Hispanic voting bases, especially in the Bronx, according to multiple sources.

“It’s sad, but not surprising,” said Geoffrey Croft, a longtime city parks watchdog. “The Parks Department has long been a chief place for patronage jobs – for better and for worse. What real qualifications and experience do these people have for running an agency beyond political connections?”

Eric Adams
The Adams admin quietly tapped a City Council member’s wife and another top Bronx Democratic supporter to fill high-ranking Parks Department jobs.

Aponte previously earned $104,874 as chief of staff to the department’s assistant commissioner for urban park service. Aponte, who is also her husband’s campaign treasurer, saw her yearly Parks Department earnings skyrocket 68% after being bumped up to Bronx commissioner.

Perez previously worked as deputy chief of staff in the Council Speaker’s Office, where records show he pulled in $151,509 last year. Perez also ran ex-Speaker Corey Johnson’s failed comptroller 2021 campaign.

“I just don’t get this hire,” said one city Democratic pol. “What experience does he have running parks – especially the ones in Manhattan? He’s a Bronx guy.”

Anthony Perez
Anthony Perez, former executive director of the Bronx Democratic Party, was given the job of Manhattan borough commissioner.

Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor insisted Perez and Aponte were selected through a “fair hiring process” and were “the most qualified candidates for the job” out of a combined 80 applicants.

“Parks is fortunate to have two new borough commissioners with extensive experience working in city service and both with a focus on building communities and bridging gaps,” she added.

The Post reported that Adams had already rewarded 10 ex-Council members who campaigned for him – both Democrats and Republicans – to plum leadership posts in his administration since taking office in January.

Jessenia Aponte, wife of Councilman Rafael Salamanca
The Parks Department in gave Jessenia Aponte, wife of Councilman Rafael Salamanca (D-Bronx), a huge promotion that comes with a $72,000-plus raise, naming her Bronx borough commissioner.

Last week, The Post also reported that Schools Chancellor David Banks had quietly promoted Adams’ girlfriend Tracey Collins to a top education job, months after Adams tapped Banks’ gal pal Sheena Wright as a deputy mayor.

City Hall adamantly defended the moves, saying Collins and Wright are more than qualified for their new jobs, and that the Post report was “vile and sexist.”

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